ZAMBOANGA CITY— Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov.Mujiv Hataman on Monday said the death of Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute signalled the end of the crisis in Marawi City.
“This victory marks the end of the siege in Marawi, but it also means the beginning of a long but necessary process of healing and recovery among our people,” Hataman said in a statement hours after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año confirmed that the recovered bodies belong to the terrorist leaders.
“What happened in Marawi (City) is sheer violence and terror rearing its ugly head against true Muslims and Moros, and yet it has failed to break our shared faith and our collective spirit,” Hataman said.
Elite forces from the Army’s 3rd Scout Rangers led the operation at dawn on Monday with the target to neutralize the top terrorist leaders.
The hunt culminated on Monday after the military received a reliable information from a female hostage rescued over the weekend.
The fighting in Marawi City stemmed when the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute group and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) joined forces in an attempt to establish a caliphate in the Philippines on May 23.
The crisis dragged on for more than five months and triggered a humanitarian crisis as thousands of people flee from the country’s lone Islamic City – Marawi.
Año said the terrorist leaders were killed when soldiers advanced as they flee from one of their strongholds dragging along some hostages.
At least 17 hostages were rescued following the skirmish.
“Today, the end of five months of fighting in Marawi (City) can finally begin,” Hataman said citing it has been 145 days since the conflict in Marawi City started.
Hataman underscored that despite the crisis actions of compassion were witnessed.
“In these dark times, we have become a source of light and warmth for each other. In the face of conflict, it is the Meranao people who have taken the lead in reclaiming peace in the Islamic City,” Hataman said.
“In the midst of terror, we have seen defiant heroes rising among us despite adversity and selflessly offering themselves despite the risk of losing everything they had–government workers, non-profit and private organizations, and volunteers,” he said.
“It is this faith and spirit that we will carry with us as we end not only this time of conflict, but as we uproot the terrorism that traitors have planted in our land,” he added.
“And we will be with you, today and in the days ahead. In moving forward, we remain one with Marawi,” he added. (PNA)